Chocolate Show returns to hook Utah on sweets

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    By Annie Wong

    Chocolate lovers don”t have to wait until Thanksgiving or Christmas to indulge themselves. The Utah Chocolate Show, Nov. 18 and 19, is returning for its second year to satisfy chocoholics at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy.

    “Last November”s show provided great variety and included every chocolate company that I have ever heard of,” said Josi Kilpack, an attendee of the 2004 Chocolate Show. “I think it will have a lot more to offer this year.”

    In its debut year, the show broke first-year records for attendance and vendor satisfaction and became an instant fixture in the state”s event calendar, said Annette Lyon, assistant director of the chocolate show.

    “We were warned that we wouldn”t have more than 1,500 attendees, but we ended up having 6,000,” Lyon said. “No first year shows have ever been so successful. Our event manager said this is a ”Cinderella Story.””

    Lyon said the show will have more to offer this year, and she expects 10,000 chocolate lovers from around the state to attend.

    Chocolate vendors, such as Utah Truffles and Fernwood Candy, will display everything from chocolate fondue fountains to truffles, organic chocolates, and even a chocolate antioxidant beverage.

    Colorado Kernels is returning with its chocolate-covered popcorn, and Winder Farms will offer its famous chocolate milk.

    Attendees can try chocolate samples, shop around and even make their own treats to take home.

    Lyon said in answer to previous attendees” requests, this year the Utah Chocolate Show is offering hands-on classes, where chocolate lovers can get down and dirty with chocolate.

    In addition, attendees can also learn how to make chocolate body scrub, soap and lip gloss at the chocolate spa body-care class. Parents can make a “Candyland Pizza” with their children while chocoholics can learn how to dip their own chocolates with Shepherd”s Cake and Candy.

    Not only does the show satisfy chocolate cravings, it also helps with some local businesses.

    “The event doesn”t have a long history, but I was impressed with what it has already achieved in the first year,” said Keith Cavanauge, founder of Utah Truffle.

    He said he feels confident in the festival because the show is well run, including plenty of advertising. As Utah Truffle gets more exposure through the show, business should come its way, he said.

    Melanie Henderson, creative director of the festival, came up with the idea for the chocolate show. Once she had the idea, she couldn”t stop thinking about it. With experience in catering and event management, she immediately put her thoughts into action by involving her sisters ,Annette Lyon and Michelle Stevenett.

    Starting every thing from scratch, the sisters said they learned a lot of things the hard way.

    “Before we started, we just thought that this was something fun to do,” Stevenett said. “We had no idea how much time and work we had to put into the production.”

    Stevenett said although they are not making a lot of profit at the moment, their main goal is to make people happy.

    “Last year”s show was so much fun,” Henderson added. “We can”t wait for the show to arrive this year.”

    Those who are interested can avoid waiting in line with pre-purchased tickets, which are now on sale for $7.50 each on the show”s Web site, www.UtahChocolateShow.com.

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